Crowdfunding campaign fail? 5 key tips to get the money flowing fast

This guest post is written by Jo-Ná A. Williams, Esq., a former vocalist and songwriter and a solo practitioner with her own firm in New York, J.A. Williams Law – The Artist Empowerment Firm.

You’ve finally decided to finish your album. Congratulations! This is a monumental step in your career. Only problem, you’ve got more creativity than money. Solution? Crowdfund your music! Sites like Kickstarter, PledgeMusic and IndieGoGo are popular amongst musicians.

So then you make a video, come up with prizes, send it out and sit anxiously at the computer waiting for donations from your fans to pour in. Problem is, they don’t. Day after day, you promote on your social media and even send a few messages to your email list (since they haven’t heard from you in a while, they are sure to support, right?), but nothing. What happened? Why didn’t your fans help you out? Why didn’t yours make it when you’ve heard people making thousands of dollars in their campaigns? Truth be told, it takes time and dedication, but more importantly, strategic planning. To get you started, here are 5 key tips to get the money flowing in your crowdfunding campaign:

1. Build a dedicated fanbase beforehand

I want you to be real with me: every time you speak to your fans via social media or your newsletter, is your dialogue consistently, “Retweet this,” “Buy this,” “Come to my show,” “Support me here,”? Me, me, me.

Think about it, are you motivated to support anyone that constantly talks this way? No one likes a selfish person.

However, if you’ve built an awesome, nurturing relationship with your fans even when you don’t have something to promote, they will be thrilled to support you when you do. The key ingredient to a successful crowdfunding campaign is having a dedicated crop of fans that will truly promote anything you’re doing — we’ve seen that happen in Amanda Palmer’s and Murder By Death’s projects. But if you think you can start building your mailing list the day before you launch your project, you’re wrong.

You need to build your list months or even YEARS before your campaign can really take off! With a dedicated fanbase, you can create a buzz about your upcoming project and have a better chance of making it go viral. It’s what you would do before releasing an album, isn’t it? 

Tip: Your email sign-up should be front and center on your website, “above the fold”  — meaning, at the top of the site so someone doesn’t have to scroll down to see it. Add your website and sign-up links to all social media and make sure you always have your mailing-list at every show. Reverb Tip: Place your customized fan collector widgets on your site and blog.

2. Explain with your heart

This is your life, your art, your passion, your everything! Do your fans know this? Have you explained how much this means to you and the greater mission you have for your music? Do people know what your message is behind this new material?

People are more motivated to support causes that have a greater mission. It’s important to connect with your fans because they will get behind your project when they see the REAL you.

Tip: Listen to your music and start to ask yourself why. Why do I want this? What does this music mean to me? Why do people need to hear this music? What is my message? Connect to your passion and others will do the same. Bonus Tip: Explain this point in a stellar high-quality video.

Amanda Palmer reached 1,192% of her Kickstarter campaign goal earlier this year. In her video she said that this project is proof that “major-label refugees” can go outside of the label system to fund their work.

3. Arm your tribe

Did you make it easy for your backers to share your campaign? Did you compose easy social media posts for them or provide shortened links to your campaign?

Your fans get a million bits of info thrown at them a day — as much as they love your stuff, I hate to break it to you, they love other people’s stuff too.

Tip: Make your campaign easily shareable by creating tweets, Facebook posts, links, etc. and attach them to your campaign and all your auto responders. Not only will your fan base grow, but so will your contributions.

4. Partner with a pro

Have you looked at the successful campaigns of other artists to see what THEY did? Have you reached out to anyone with successful campaigns for feedback on yours, asked them to be a part of your video or help spread the word?

Just like you offer gifts to your fans, approach a successful campaigner and exchange something valuable.

Tip: Do a collab, feature others in your video, or have them promote your campaign to their list in exchange to promote THEIR music to your audience. When you partner, everyone wins!

5. Connect with media mavens or product pushers

Let’s talk about promotion. Did you offer influential bloggers or websites the exclusive to cover your campaign? Did you try to get major sponsors to feature their products in your campaign rewards in exchange for promotion? You’re a creative person right?

Take that good right-brained resource and get to work on seeing what YOU can offer influencers for their support!

Tip: Start by taking a look at what’s unique about your campaign, how can you position it as something that would be attractive to an influencer? Who are your fans? What’s your demographic? Think what’s juicy about your goods and promote it!

Although creating a campaign can be a lot of work, if you get creative, do a little research, and  have a plan, it will be worth it in the end when you have the money for your project and more to invest in your career! Anything worth having is worth working for. Dont forget this: there is a human behind every donation. Treat your audience with value and you’ll get even more in return. Ok, get out there and start planning. 

Do you have extra tips on crowdfunding? We’d love to hear it! Please share them in the comments below!

Jo-Ná A. Williams, Esq. can be reached at jo-na@jawilliamslaw.com and on Twitter. For a FREE copy of her guide “Blueprint: The Insider’s Guide to Empowering Your Career as an Artist and Ditching your 9-5 for Good” Sign up here: http://eepurl.com/iOqe1.

(Legal stuff: this article is for information purposes only. It does NOT replace the advice administered by a licensed attorney in YOUR state based on your specific situation. I know you wouldn’t assume I was your lawyer cause your mama “didn’t raise no fool.” But mine didn’t either, hence the disclaimer!)

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Video: How to get fans to open and respond to emails

This is the first-ever guest vblog by Chris Rockett at Music Marketing Classroom.

Chris is a very animated speaker from the U.K. whose mission is to uncover the dark secrets of music marketing and share them with everyone who is interested. Warning: he talks faster than you could probably keep up with, but don’t worry about taking notes as he’s included them below. Enjoy!

Notes from the video

Email Marketing in a Nutshell

  • Get fans on the email list, entertain them on a regular basis, and then link to something they can buy. (0:15)
    • Start off with low priced products (downloadable songs, for example) and move people up the ladder to higher priced items. (0:26)

When to Send Your Emails?

  • Use your email service provider to schedule your emails to go out at 4:30am, so that you’re there when people first check their messages in the morning. (0:47)
  • If you want to send two emails per week Tuesday and Thursday are good because Monday is a busy email day and people are a little bit distracted on Friday. (1:14)

Ideas for Your Subject Line

  • Use odd looking numbers – “Why did this video get 53,345 views?” (2:38)
  • Ask a question – “Did You See This?” (3:03)
  • Stack the value with brackets – “My Guitar Got Set On Fire! [Video Inside]” (3:30)
  • If you send two messages in a week send the second with the same subject line as a reply – “RE: Why did this video get 53,345 views?” (4:28)
  • Use the words YOU and YOUR in the subject line – “Your F’REE Tickets…” (5:20)
  • Old favorites: Try out “Thank You” and “I’m in love…” (6:04)

Increasing the Clickthrough Rate in Your Emails

  • Keep your emails short and sweet – people may get bored and hit delete if you send something massive. (7:05)
  • Have three links per email. One after the first line, one in the middle and the last one after the PS. (7:30)
  • Including an image in your email that looks like a video increases the chance of a click. (7:43)
  • Make sure that you include a PS because people sometimes skip the rest of the message and just read that. (8:26)
  • Make each email about one topic to keep your fans focused on the message. (8:38)
  • If you want to send people to a blog post then consider pasting the text into the email itself because it skips the step of fans having to click through. (8:50)

Creating Customer Happiness

  • Instantly send fans an email after they pay with detailed instructions on how to get their thing. Make it “Homer Simpson” simple and give them your email address to contact you if they have any problems. (Also consider making a ScreenR video to show them how to access the product) (9:44)
  • Surprise and delight your fans with bonuses and freebies they did not expect. (Remember my favourite FRENCH CHEF who delights his customer with unexpected treats!) (10:23)
  • Set up Survey Monkey to get an idea of how your fans found their experience with you and continue to improve your customer happiness based on the feedback you get. (11:18)

16 bonus tips

 

Let’s look at a few more things you can do to improve the effectiveness of the email messages you send to your fans.

By the way, if you have not already set up a mailing list signup form on your website, then I’m going to use the power of my mind to chain you to your computer until you do it. It’s that important.

Good ol’ ReverbNation actually runs a killer service called Fan Reach Pro which is one of the most powerful services seen for serious musicians to collect fan data. You can get started with your first 500 subscribers for FREE. (Ain’t no better deal than that :))

Do it today, people, not tomorrow, or the next day… your website is a leaky bucket if you don’t have a way to follow up with your fans directly.

So anyway, let’s dig into this… I have personally tested this stuff and have only included the things that have shown a positive result.

  1. You should collect subscribers on every page of your site. (Reverb Tip: Our new HTML5 Fan Collector widget can help you while making you look cool. Well, it will at least try.)
  2. Make sure that your fans don’t have to scroll down to see your signup form. There will be people who won’t scroll down when they hit your web page which means they will never see your free music offer.
  3. Create an irresistible offer for your fans to join your list and make it very clear. Try something like “Signup to Download 7 FREE TRACKS and our latest music video”. (An offer like that will set you apart from everyone else because you’re stacking the value)
  4. Test different versions of your free offer to see what your fans respond to the best.
  5. It’s a good idea to sign up for your own mailing list so that you can get an idea of how your messages are looking from the fans point of view. If you start to annoy yourself then it’s time to rethink your communications.
  6. Whatever you offer your fans in exchange for their email address, make sure you give it to them on the “thank you page,” or in the confirmation email. This will build trust right away. If they don’t get what they signed up for within a few minutes you’re dead to them.
  7. Good email marketing is like a bank – the more you put in, the more “interest” you will receive. Every morning ask yourself, “What can I do to be cool to my fans today?”.
  8. Whenever somebody emails you through the contact form on your website, make sure that you offer them the chance to join your fan list as well.
  9. Go around personally after every show and offer to send enthusiastic people some free music. Then collect their email address so you can keep your promise. (Reverb Tip: You can easily do this with your smartphone or iPad. Just download the free Control Room app and use the Fan Collector feature. BOOM.)
  10. Whenever you connect with a new contact in the music industry ask if you can add them to your list. This is like networking on autopilot and having influential music people in your gang can be very powerful as they watch your progress and become fans.
  11. In every email you send you need to let people know what you want them to do next. This is known as a “call-to-action” and it does not have to be about buying your music, it could be “liking” your Facebook page or listening to your newly recorded tune on YouTube. Every connection with your fans should have a call-to-action.
  12. Split test the subject lines of your emails to see what your fans respond to the most. (Reverb Tip: FanReach can help. It proves open rates for each email you send and make it easy for you to resend a previous email, possibly changing the subject line, or tweaking the styling of the content.)
  13. To come up with catchy subject lines, go through your own email inbox and look for the emails you always open first. Ask yourself why that is and then use what you learn to make your own headlines POP!
  14. Set up a series of auto-responders to introduce new fans to your musical world. You want to get them engaged in your story and ultimately lead them towards financially supporting your work. My favorite way to do this is something called the “7 day sales funnel.” In a nutshell, you’ll deliver a song a day for 7 days and a video to go along with it that gives the fans part of your story (think of it as your own little rockumentary). It’s a good way to make a connection fast and at the end of it, you might offer a special deal for one of your products to break the ice. Even if you just make simple videos the results from this approach work so much better than the common way which can often be just “BUY MY STUFF” in every email.

Great example of a well positioned email signup box Iras World’s homepage. See tip #2.

What should you write in your emails?

 

Rather than getting bogged down in a load of weird sales tactics, I want to share a simple formula for updating your people with regular content and always giving yourself the chance of picking up a new paid customer as well.

All you have to do is send people a golden nugget of free content and then link off to something they can buy.

This boils down music marketing into its simplest form.

With that in mind you can use the ideas below to make sure that you never run out of things to talk about:

  1. Let them listen to your new music. (Don’t worry, it gets better!)
  2. Videos of gigs, backstage, practice sessions, tour diaries and recording sessions.
  3. Get fans involved with designing your merch.
  4. Ask people to send in their artwork or photos for your blog, Facebook page and even your album covers.
  5. Interviews – with key players in your music scene, band members, fans, your producer, manager, agent and anyone else who works on the business side of things.
  6. Updates about live shows NEAR THEM! (To do this segment your list by location)
  7. Schedule an hour to connect with your fans personally and send bulletin alerts for Facebook and Twitter chats.
  8. Keep a songwriting diary and send updates via email.
  9. Deconstruct one of your songs, the lyrics and meaning.
  10. Ask fans to send in their own lyric ideas and write a song with them.
  11. Have people send in questions then do a Q+A video.
  12. Run a special limited time discount on one of your music products. This can get people off the fence and buying something, but you’ve also set them up with a sweet deal which builds the bond.
  13. Let them know about any press or radio play you get. This is interesting content and great social proof that other people are excited about your music too.
  14. Send links to new blog posts and ask for feedback and comments, then respond personally to each one.
  15. Giveaway re-mixed and acoustic versions of your songs.

Phew! My fingers are tired so I’m going to stop there 😉

But just remember each time you send an email to your fans, ask yourself if you would send that same message to your best friend?…that will keep you on the straight and narrow.

Hope this post kind of sparks off a few ideas for you. As ever, I’d love to hear any suggestions for things that have been working with your own fanbase.

P.S. If you enjoyed this and want to learn more check out my free Music Marketing Cheat Sheets.

If you have any thoughts or questions about this video, Chris will be available to chat with you in the comments area below. Follow him on Twitter.

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7 Ways to Build Music Business Contacts

This guest blog post was written by Marcus Taylor, founder of The Musician’s Guidea website that helps DIY musicians learn about the insides of the music industry, and download useful resources including music business contracts and contact lists.

We all know that “who you know” and “being in the right place at the right time” play an important role in attaining success as an artist. What we often forget, though, is that we’re the ones responsible for building those connections.

While researching the intricacies of how successful people network for my book last year, my co-writer Rob and I noticed that for two people to meet, they must go through a 3-stage process.

First of all, they must be aligned in the same space at the same time, either geographically (e.g. in the same room) or virtually (e.g. on Twitter). Secondly, they must connect through some form of introduction, and finally they must engage in deeper conversation to create a long-term relationship.

In this post I want to focus on those first two points, and share with you seven tips to help you meet more music business contacts (I’d write a post on how to engage in deeper conversation but I figured you already know how to do that ;)). 

1. Know who you want to meet but remain open to meeting others

The first step to meeting more of the right people is knowing who you’re trying to meet. Are you looking to meet publishers, record label managers, or music venue promoters?

When you know who it is you’re trying to meet, you can start to think about where they spend their time (both geographically and virtually), and what opportunities exist for you to be in the right place and time to meet them. If, for example, your band could really do with a more gigs in New York City, you can begin to identify the places where New York venue promoters hang out online and in the real world.

That said, never be afraid to go off course and meet people who may not seem to bear obvious opportunity right now. They might be of great use to you in the future.

“Build your network before you need it” – Keith Ferrazzi, author of Never Eat Alone 

2. Make an effort to meet other bands & ask for introductions

Let’s say that you did want to meet music venue promoters in New York City. In my experience, one of the best ways to meet venue promoters is to simply turn up to music venues and ask the bands performing to introduce you to the promoter. You may have to prearrange meeting up with the performers before their set, but this approach is incredibly effective as it differs to how most bands approach venue promoters, and the introduction from the performer acts as a recommendation.

If you went to two or three gigs a week you’d be surprised at how quickly you could fill up your gig calendar.

3. Attend music business conferences

When I’ve attended music business conferences in the past, I’ve been surprised by how few bands choose to attend. Sure, the entry fees are generally quite steep, but if you take into account the fact that these events are usually swarming with label managers, publishers, and music promotion companies, it’s almost certainly worth the investment if you’re willing to get out and build those connections.

4. Join local music business Meetups

If you’re not already using Meetup.com to build connections, I thoroughly recommend giving it a shot. In most major cities you’ll find various musician Meetups that offer great networking opportunities. If you can’t find anything nearby, consider creating a music industry Meetup in your area and inviting local music companies to come and share ideas over a coffee or beer.

5. Use Twitter to break the ice

Twitter is one of the most efficient and effective ways to break the ice with music business professionals. Almost every serious record label, booking agent, and music companies will have a presence on Twitter, so it’s a great platform to start building these relationships.

Familiarize yourself with the advanced search operators on search.twitter.com and create separate lists to keep track of which companies you’re trying to meet (click on image for help on how to create Twitter lists)

6. Show your gratitude

This may seem like a slightly strange tip, but bear with me. If you pick a music company, radio station, music blog, or website that you enjoy once a day and send them a quick email to say thanks for doing what they do, you will build contacts very quickly.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it” William Arthur Ward

In the music business, selfless gratitude is rare. When I receive an email from an artist thanking me for writing my blog posts, for some reason I’m far more compelled to respond and listen to their music, than if they had just emailed me a link to check out their music.

7. Build 3 new contacts a week

I have to give Derek Sivers full credit for this last tip. Set yourself a goal of building three new music business connections a week, and in twelve months time you’ll know 156 new people in the music business!

Using all of the tips in this post, see if you can go and build three new music business contacts this week. If you have any thoughts or questions about this post, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, or you can send me a tweet at @TheMusicGuide or drop me an email (marcus@themusiciansguide.co.uk). Tell me what you’re working on or what you need help with and I’ll do my best to help out.

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Collect Fans Everywhere with Our New HTML5 Widget

Following our update to the new music player widget, we are now introducing the Fan Collector widget in all its HTML5 glory.  What does this mean?  It means that it works everywhere.  iPhone, iPad, Android, laptops and web enabled coffee makers* will all work beautifully with the FanCollector.

We have also simplified the Fan Collector’s look and feel, and as always it is fully skinnable.  Go ahead and get started using the HTML5 Fan Collector by going to your Control Room → Widgets & Apps → Widgets.

*we have never seen a web enabled coffee maker, but we bet it will work on one.
  
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5 Ways to Treat Your Fans Like Gold

Not THAT kind of gold!

This guest contribution is written by Jon Ostrow (@jon_ostrow), cofounder of MicControl.com, Publicity Director of Cyber PR and blogger for Songtrust.com. Jon can be easily reached at any time on Twitter

As an emerging musician focusing your efforts online, building a strong and loyal fan base is the ‘secret sauce’ to success. Loyal fans purchase music, attend shows, evangelize your music and help you exponentially grow your fan base. Ultimately they’ll give you the leverage you need to pursue music on your own terms. When you have a cult following, you maintain creative control; no label in the world will try to mess with someone whose fan base is making them big money.

While this all sounds great, unfortunately there’s no “secret sauce” to help grow this kind of fan base. Some people find themselves naturally at the forefront of a movement. And others try for years to make it happen with little success. And while a secret sauce would be nice, the truth is there’s one constant that is guaranteed to get you moving in the right direction: Treat your fans like gold!

The idea of customer service may sound a little too ‘corporate’ for some of you, but in all honestly it’s something that you should ALL be thinking about as you’re interacting with fans and building a presence (and hopefully influence) online. Here are five important ways to treat your fans like gold.

1) Fans Are Not Numbers, They Are People

Something that so many artists and brands are guilty of doing too often is promoting the fact that they are only a certain number of fans away from hitting some milestone number on their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Youtube videos,etc. This obsession with growing the numbers as big as possible is a continuation of the myspace era of social networking, and it really needs to stop. The best way to grow a truly loyal fan base is to nurture their loyalty from the very beginning, and nothing makes a fan feel less appreciated then making them feel like just a number.

Forget for a second that you are only 10 away from 4000 fans, and start to actually spend time appreciating and nurturing the fans that you DO have. Treat them as human beings, with care and respect, and they will start to reciprocate.

2) Give Your Fans a Human Response 

Speaking of treating your fans like humans and not numbers… fans want to know that on the other end of the computer there’s a human, not a robot responding to them. When fans reach out to you online — whether it’s to complement your music or ask you a personal question — respond with a personal touch and you’ll show them that you care enough to take the time to personally get back to them.

3) Under-Promise and Over Deliver

Regularly delivering value to your fans online is a big part of nurturing their loyalty. The more value you deliver on a consistent basis, the more loyal they will become. But with the idea of delivering value comes a problem that many artists run into, which is to make promises they don’t carry through. This could be in the form of promising a new song release on a certain date, promising a live performance like no other, or even simply promising that your music is”like nothing anyone has ever heard before.”

Let’s get something straight: fans hate nothing more than when a promise to them has been broken. Fans, as any customers and brand loyalists, are very delicate and will quickly feel betrayed and disrespected when they are promised something and then let down. The easy solution? Stop promising things…but you don’t really want to do that. The better idea is to under-promise and over deliver so that everything you give to your fans is received with delight!

4) Bring Your Fans on Your Journey 

You need to give your fans something to be loyal to if you want their loyalty to be directed towards your music. If you talk AT your fans and focus on “me, me, me,” they won’t have much to feel a connection with you. As far as they are concerned, they don’t exist in your world and so whether they stay or leave won’t mean much to you.

But if you talk WITH your fans and make them feel as though they are truly an important part of the well-oiled machine that is your music career, you can give them a sense of meaning and a reason to stick around. By bringing them on your (‘your’ as a collective of you and your fan base) journey on a regular basis, your fans will have that special something to feel loyal to and support in all ways that they can.

5) The Follow Up! 

This couldn’t be simpler, and yet it’s one of the most important things you can do. If your fans come out to a show and sign up for a mailing list, or join a mailing list to download a new song, or have commented saying how much they like your music, FOLLOW UP with them and thank them for doing so. The follow up is widely viewed as THE most important part of growing a loyal fan base and it’s absolutely essential that you embrace the idea in any way that you can. Nothing says ‘human response’ and ‘I truly appreciate you being a part of our journey’ as a simple follow up.

Plain and simple, don’t make the mistake of missing this incredibly important  — and incredibly easy  — opportunity to nurture the loyalty of your fans.

How Do YOU Treat Your Fans Like Gold?

These five ideas above are just the tip of the iceberg! We want to hear from all of you about how you treat your fans like gold, so please leave your stories, suggestions and/or feedback in the form of a comment below.

 

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New Features: Enhanced Email Click Tracking, Free Ping (Apple) Profiles, and Update Your Concert Schedule From Your Phone

This week there are some great new features available for ReverbNation artists.  Check them out below:

1. See which links are most effective on your FanReach emails

When you send an email to your fans, you don’t always know which links are the most effective, or which message resonated. Starting as of June 9th, all FanReach emails sent will track which links in your emails got clicked, and show you how often they were clicked. To access this new feature sign in to FanReach, send your fans an email, and then visit the email history tab to see the clicks. The feature is available to both FanReach Free and FanReach Pro users.


2. Update your show schedule from your iPhone

You can now update your show schedule from your iPhone with the ReverbNation control room app.  The feature lets you add and mange shows, and keep your attendance numbers up to date. The Control room app, and the new show update feature, are still 100% free (the new feature is not yet available for Android, but will be soon). You can download the app by visiting the Apple App Store.

3. FREE Ping profiles available for all Distribution customers

Now all customers of ReverbNation’s Digital Distribution service can have a page on Apple’s social network, Ping. The service does not cost anything extra, is available to all ReverbNation Distribution customers who have a release that is live on iTunes. Simply click on the distribution tab in your control room and look for the yellow banner at the top of your screen. If you don’t have Distribution yet, check visit our Distribution page to find out more.

KevinNew Features: Enhanced Email Click Tracking, Free Ping (Apple) Profiles, and Update Your Concert Schedule From Your Phone
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Email 101 For Artists

This post was originally posted on Music Think Tank

Email is an essential part of the fan relationship equation for artists, labels, and managers. While it is difficult to say the exact value of collecting any individual email address for musicians, marketers from other industries peg the generic value of getting an email at about $1 each.   But it’s all about what you do with it once you are given the great responsibility of owning it.  We have seen Artists generate as much as $10 per email address on their list, such as the lists they build using our FanReach e-mail system.

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